For those readers who are wondering why I am so critical of the Panamanian court system, besides the rampant corruption, where justice is bought and sold every day, by the judiciary, prosecutors and attorneys, the sordid way in which obstruction of justice occurs is the secondary reason. When you see how it perverts the ability of victims to obtain justice, you will understand my concern.
Here is why it is justice denied; Panamanian nationals that are the subject of a Denuncia, due to fraud or some other variety of white-collar crime, often choose to bribe one or more of the court officers in the case, especially the sitting judge, and/or the prosecutor. Do they get their money's worth ?
Bribed players frustrate the proceeding by the following tactics, which are employed by sleazy Panama City lawyers against foreign victims:
(1) Translator/interpreters are conveniently not available for court hearings.
(2) Ex Parte hearings, where the victim's attorney never receives notice, and a ruling adverse to his case is handed down.
(3) The testimony of the victims, which is indispensable to moving the case to trial, is postponed, over and over again, and never taken.
(4) A significant portion of the court file mysteriously disappears, while it is in the custody of the judge. Sometimes, the entire court file is "mislaid" and not found again. Pleading in Panama's court system are not scanned in, and once documents are gone, reestablishing them, through the introduction of copies in the possession of the victim's attorney, is rarely, if ever, allowed.
(5) The judge sits on the file indefinitely, refraining from entering any rulings whatsoever.
(6) The prosecutor abruptly asks the judge to dismiss the case, without any basis in law or procedure.
As you can see, the corrupt Panamanian court system is not only dysfunctional, it is broken. By way of illustration, there are several major cases pending against American businessman, Gary James Lundgren, none of which have ever gone to trial, due to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of his lawyer, Alcides Bartolo Peña, who has bragged of his ability to control court cases, due to his friends in the court system, and is a known "fixer" of court rulings and decisions. Lundgren is reportedly the subject of investigations by both US law enforcement agencies, and securities regulators. as are three companies that he controls, Global Valores Inversiones SA, Global Finance & Investments SA, and Interpacific Investors Services, Inc. His attorney has been delaying cases brought against him in Panama, by victims of his reported frauds, for many years. Justice delayed indefinitely becomes justice denied.
One case against Lundgren, pending for four years, without the victim being allowed to even give his statement, was mysteriously dismissed by the prosecutor. Based upon Lundgren's successes in tying up Panama's criminal justice system, which unfortunately is typical, one can only conclude that it is pure folly to invest in Panama, for, if you later have a legal dispute, the courts are the last place where you will be able to obtain relief.